First published on http://business.time.com.
A blurb from a high-profile author increases the odds of a book winding up in a bookstore, perhaps even in a prominent “staff pick” position. But do blurbs actually boost sales? The scant research that’s been conducted on the topic indicates they have little to no influence on buyers’ decisions. A 2012 Bowker Market Research study shows that just 6% of consumers become aware of the books they buy through jacket covers or testimonials. Other “evidence” of blurbs’ effectiveness is mostly anecdotal.
Ann Patchett, an author who opened her own bookstore in Nashville last year, believes the only time blurbs have an impact is of they’re abundant and from prominent writers. Patchett herself is inundated with blurb requests, even for galleys before a book has been sold to a publisher.
“Every single day the UPS truck comes and brings me a galley,” she says. “I feel like a huge portion of my life is disappointing people and saying no to books I’m not even opening.” The number of books sent to Patchett each year? About 300. She blurbs about a dozen.